6/28/2017

Thread Process Incorporates Electrical, Optical and Structural Elements During Printing

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The process enables differing materials to be added into a component simultaneous with 3D printing.

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The Design and Prototyping Group of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) has developed a process that allows electrical, optical and structural elements to be encapsulated inside additively manufactured components. Components can now be manufactured with built-in, continuous connectivity and additional functionality passing through the X, Y and Z axes.

The process of printing different materials into one component could open additive manufacturing to more uses, according to AMRC.

AMRC says that the new process will be an advantage in the manufacture of components requiring encapsulated electronics, such as those used in medical prosthetics, consumer electronics or structural components that require electrical connections. Otherwise, these electronic parts must be secured externally to the component. The process could also benefit components that are sensitive to contamination from debris, corrosion or impact by “sealing” the conductive tracks into the components.

So far, the Thread process has been demonstrated on machines that print with polymer components, but it is said to be suited to a variety of other platforms, and has the potential to both be developed as an add-on for existing platforms and to be incorporated into next-generation technologies. 

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